The Texas Legislature approved two “anti-revival” bills in its final days amid heavy protests – pushing the laws through on the last day of the session.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 12, prohibits minors from attending drag shows. The other, Senate Bill 17, bans offices and programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at publicly funded colleges and universities.
Both bills will now go to the office of Republican State Governor Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign them.
Bryan Hughes, the Republican senator who championed SB 12, celebrated the bill’s passage, saying it would protect children.
“Good news: our bill protecting children from sexually explicit drag shows (SB 12) is officially headed to the governor’s office,” he tweeted.
“These shows are definitely inappropriate for minors, and we will not allow children to be sexualized or exploited in Texas.”
Protesters are seen outside the State Capitol in Austin, Texas last month, taking to the streets to raise their voices against a series of ‘woke’ bills
People march toward the Texas State Capitol in Austin on April 15, weeks before the legislature passes ‘anti-revival’ bills in its final days
Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, will now sign SB 12 and SB 17 into law
Texas is following the lead of Montana, which last week became the first state to specifically ban people dressed in drag from reading books to children in public schools and libraries.
Bills in Florida and Tennessee also appear to be attempting to ban drag play events, but both require performances to be sexual in nature, which could be interpreted. Both bills also face legal challenges.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas, who has made the bill a priority, said in a statement after the vote that it “prohibits sexualized performances and drag shows in the presence of a minor.”
He added: ‘It’s shocking to me that a parent would allow their young child to be sexualized by drag shows.
“Children, who cannot decide for themselves, must be protected from this scourge facing our state.”
The LGBTQ community saw both SB 12 and SB 17 as an attack on their existence. People are pictured marching in Austin on April 15
Bryan Hughes, the Republican state senator who introduced the bill banning drag shows for minors
Some wondered how the drag bill could be prosecuted.
The Texas District and County Attorneys Association, the trade association for state attorneys, pointed out that the bill does not define “sexual posturing” for which performers would be punished.
It would also criminalize sex between 17-year-olds, which is currently legal because the age of consent in Texas is 17.
“Precoital sexual conduct in private between consenting adults when one or both are 17 years old” would be illegal, the group tweeted from its official handle.
“It will not work.”
Critics also said its wording was so broad that it could encompass cheerleading squads.
Mary Gonzalez, leader of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, warned that it could “even involve Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.”
Violators could face a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
The company hosting them would be subject to a civil fine of $10,000 per violation.
The state’s drag queens have vowed to challenge the law.
“Well Texas…really devastated by this bill,” tweeted Cynthia Lee Fontaine, who appeared on Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
‘Very disappointed. But we will continue to fight! It is not finished ! We are not criminals!
The second bill, SB 17, scraps diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives – and is part of a nationwide flurry of bills, arguing that taxpayer dollars are being used to fuel racial division and advancing a liberal agenda in colleges and universities.
The Texas bill, once signed by Abbott, will give colleges and universities six months to end their DEI programs.
Brandon Creighton introduced SB 17, which rolls back funding for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at publicly funded colleges and universities
An Associated Press analysis of the bills found that at least 30 bills in a dozen states this year sought to end diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in colleges and colleges. universities.
Brandon Creighton, who sponsored SB 17, tweeted: “Eliminating the Offices of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion will result in millions in taxpayer savings and restore a culture of free inquiry , meritocracy, equal opportunity, and genuine innovation within Texas higher education.”
But the Texas Conference of American Association of University Professors (AAUP) said in a statement that the bill sends a clear message to the 1.3 million students at public universities and community colleges, “that our state does not is committed to welcoming students from all backgrounds and building a truly inclusive and supportive public higher education system.
They tweeted: ‘In light of the passing of #SB17 banning Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officers, we are asking our public university and community college administrations to look for ways to leverage making the most of the invaluable service rendered to our campus communities by DEI staff and faculty.’
The University of Texas branch of the AAUP said SB 17 was intended to “divide Texans.”
They tweeted: ”Instead of using their power to fight gun violence, economic inequality or fully fund our public schools – lawmakers have deprived young transgender people of their health care, tried to steal money from taxpayers to our students in neighborhood schools, violated the religious freedom of Texans, targeted border and LGBTQIA+ communities, and continued to ignite culture wars that seek to divide and distract us.
“The attacks on tenure, academic freedom and DEI are exactly that – part of a culture war that seeks to divide Texans. The fight goes on.